Once Upon A time....In a Far Away Place, We visited A Majestic Palace. Pena Palace, In Sintra Portugal. Mystical.. Cold.. Foggy.. Magical..
Now that we've created the mood for the journey, let’s start with the arrival.
We were already captivated by the site from the plane and this is just a small part of it!
The Portugal journey starts at the airport.
then we'll take you to Porto, Douro Valley and Sintra.
Get ready for tips and advice along the way!
First order of business was a sim card for our phone. It was quick and easy!
The Vodafone kiosk is located on the first level (arrival hall) in the airport.
At the time of this writing (2018), it is open 8am to 10pm. $14.99 Euro/15 days/15GB.
There is a small charge for Portugal calls, but for the USA, we used Google Hangouts, which is free and "Thank You Lord" for Google Maps!
We took a friends advice and did not get a rental car, until we left Lisbon, so we used a door-to-door service called 100 Rumos.
You can reserve the ride online, the cost was 6 Euros. Yep! 6 Euros.
They even pick you up right by the Vodafone kiosk.
Here is the link: 100Rumos
We were advised NOT to drive around Lisbon, if at all possible.
See picture below.
Parallel parking skills are a must, and you better be able to get in that space FAST.
Parking spaces are often reserved for residents of these apartments, and you will see signs indicating this.
TIP: If you do use a car, call your host or hotel ahead for the closest public parking. We did rent a car on our return trip to Lisbon, and we would have never found parking without help! More tips on renting and driving in Portugal.
.....Onward To The Airbnb
We are loving Airbnb's everywhere we travel! Our Airbnb was in Bairro Alto.
This neighborhood is popular for it's restaurants and bars. Although it has an active late-night crowd, we were not bothered at our airbnb.
TIP: Here are the popular neighborhoods in Lisbon: Bairro Alto, Alfama, Chiado, Belem and Baixa.
If you would like a description of each of the neighborhoods listed above, check out this link from TripAdvisor: Neighborhoods Here
Wherever you stay, it is easy to get around by bus, tram or Uber–Our favorite!
Below is our Airbnb. Keep in mind these apartments are cozy and quaint, but old, small and use manual gas heat for washing and heating the rooms.
TIP: If you are planning to stay in a private rental apartment or Airbnb, ask what level you are on. (Airbnb doesn't always add that info in their description) Top floors are best-noise wise, unless you have a lot of luggage!
We did not get the top floor this time. One evening, the neighbors above were playing some sort of marble game on their wood floor, it was crazy loud!
TIP: Bring Ear Plugs.
Before heading out, unpack your walking shoes.
Stone, More Stone, Steps, More Steps, Hills, More Hills,
Not complaining, just saying......oh yeah, slippery when wet too!
Do-in The Jet Lag Boogie……
Still a bit groggy, we walked about two blocks to a restaurant called Pety dejeune. The fresh prawns & pasta may look ordinary, but there was a Oh-So-Tasty sweet chili sauce that made my eyebrows well up with sweat. The Salmon Crepe, opened up with just a slight touch, filled with a light creamy white sauce, greens, onions and salmon.
Our First Meal In Lisbon And It Was Perfect!
Above, is a colorful playground in front of our restaurant, -And when is the last time you saw a cigarette machine in the dining area of your favorite restaurant?
Next morning, our cycle tour was cancelled due to the tour guide getting in an accident-he's okay.
Plan "B" went into effect! Free Walking Tour!
It was great! Of course you will be expected to tip, but so worth It.
You can schedule one with Sandeman European tours before your trip OR if you have a change of plans, just head down at the same time/location, and you will see another free walking tour called CHILL OUT.
This is the one we took, and here are the Links to both: CHILL and the link for SANDEMAN. Just head to these sites for more info.
.....Next, secret street art tour
We booked this tour through the Airbnb site, and it was our favorite Lisbon tour!
Hope you enjoy the pictures below and the "art" tram came by during our tour.
I like the first one, Grandma isn't into Selfie Sticks!
Scroll down to see more including the unique secret "Park In Art" parking garage.
Below is the secret art gallery in Chao do Loureiro car park. Each floor has stunning artwork from different “known” artists in Lisbon and BONUS: The top floor has a bar, with spectacular views of Lisbon.
If you're interested in this art garage, it's a bit hard to find, so please use this link which has an attached map. ART GARAGE
.....Next, Sintra, Portugal the tour was better than we imagined!
First stop Pena Palace, as you can see in these photos, the fog was very thick and would not go away, it was still lovely!
TIP: Although we like to explore on our own, tours have a lot of advantages and one of those is "timing"! Our guide for the Sintra tour arrived at Pena Palace right before the crowds were forming, so we got right in!
Depending on when go, it can get very hot and the lines can be very long.
Links and more information on the tour below.
We also visited Quinta da Regaleira (below) in Sintra, Wow! Wow! Even more spectacular.
A fabulous display of Templars and Masonic symbols- a true architectural masterpiece and the grounds are also impressive with Spectacular gardens, underground walkways, hidden tunnels, waterfalls.
The Sintra tour also took us along the atlantic coast.
The tour was a small group tour, just 8 of us, and included Sintra
the coastal areas.
They picked us up at our Airbnb along with the other guests and away we went!
Our guide was the owner of the company.
He gave us "behind the scenes" gossip and tips on both of the palaces!
Here is a link to the tour we took through Viator (a TripAdvisor Company) SINTRA
Lisbon Tasting Tour!
Before heading to Porto, we attended a tasting tour.
I really suggest these tasting tours for many reasons:
Lisbon Specialties "Lots Of Smiling" Drinks "Hidden Gems"
We booked, once again, through Airbnb "experiences" Here is the link to the TASTING.
If you would like more options for tours, we have used GetYourGuide.
They are great! Link HERE
Now, In our opinion, this pastry (below) was the most surprising and tastiest pastry of the tour and the trip!!
REALLY, FIND THIS PLACE.
The surprise is, it's a white bean and almond pastry.
Looks pretty simple right?! Everyone wanted more!!
FABRICA PASTEL FEIJAO. They don't have a website, but here is their Facebook page and you can get more information there.
Pastry shops are everywhere, It's part of Lisbon. The neighborhood of Belem is the most famous, but really they are all delightful!
.....Rental car, wolves and Porto awaits
It was time to head toward Porto. When we arranged transportation with 100 Rumos, it also included picking us up at the apartment and hauling us up to the airport for a rental car.
We have had good luck with Avis, so we reserved with them again.
Here are the Tips for car rental and driving around Portugal
First, if you don't have it already, get the Chase Sapphire Visa Card and they will cover car insurance in Portugal.
Also make sure you have enough credit on your card, to cover the cost of the car, they will put that amount on your card for the duration of the trip.
A couple weeks before your trip, contact Chase and they will give you a letter stating that you are covered for insurance. Just hand that over to the car rental company, and they will be happy.
Head to Chase Sapphire Visa Card and all the info is there.
Next, learn how to drive a "STICK" - HA! Really if you need practice or want to learn, you will save A LOT of $!
Auto transmission will be double or triple your cost!
FYI: Gas is in litres. One Gallon equals = 3.79 Litres
Toll roads: if you are driving north or south of Lisbon you will come upon toll roads.
It was no problem to pay by coin. So before you head out keep at 30 Euros in coins for the tolls roads. As you come upon the tolls, you can easily see where to "pay as you go" and the electronic lanes.
So, one of the things we love about visiting animal sanctuaries is it takes you Off The Beaten Track!
For Portugal, this is our BagsAndBones moment at the Iberian Wolf Recovery Center. Groupo Lobo.
The Iberian Wolf is endangered in Portugal. They are now protected in wild.
The Iberian Wolf Recovery Center is a safe haven for 14 Iberian wolves who enjoy a large wooded area (42 acres) in the area of Mafra.
These wolves have either been rescued from zoos, injured in the wild, or taken from owners who were keeping them as pets. We were able to see the wolves at a distance, however the guide did bring binoculars, for close up viewing.
The pictures below are Iberian Wolves.
These are not our pictures, but I wanted you to see these beautiful animals. The tour is interesting and very educational.
Tours are Saturday and Sundays only. Call or email ahead to verify times.
We were told that the later tour is better as the wolves more active in the evening and you may hear their sweet howling- their songs of contentment in the woods.
Here is the link to the center: Iberian Wolf
.....Onward! It's New Years Eve in Porto, Portugal
Gearing up for the the New Year Eve party in the streets!
The sound system was
fantastic! Then it got wild !
It was great fun!
The vendors knew how to pour Gin drinks.
My biggest Gin and Tonic Yet!
Next day, we were moving a bit slow, but there was more to eat and drink in this lovely city.
As with Lisbon, Art is everywhere!
Time to taste Port in Porto! We chose a tour with CROFT.
Bring a coat, it was like a dungeon in there.
Very interesting and tasty!
Time for lunch!
The one thing you'll notice is the restaurant prices, compared to the states.
This was a fun restaurant! We had fish, potatoes, salad and soup bar for 4.70 Euro.
New Year's Day-heading to heaven, okay, so it's wine country.
When you come upon the Douro Valley, the curves of the land are mesmerizing. Beautiful steep terraces. A bit "Craggy" in the winter, but perfect "sipp-in" weather and....
A perfect New Year's Day!
We stayed at Quinta Do Silval in Pinhao. This estate has produced Wine and Port since 1870. The views are lovely along with the staff and dinner. In 2005 they started the hotel which offers 14 rooms. Here is a link to the Hotel: Quinta.
This area of the Douro Valley, is called Pinhao. In warmer weather there are guided boat tours in traditional Rabelo Boats. These are the traditional Portuguese wooden cargo boats used to transport goods and people along the Douro River.
Many price options are available. See link below the pictures.
It was chilly, so we opted for the inside wine and port tours and chose
Quinta Do Bomfim.
Very nice tour and a spectacular view of the Douro River from the tasting room.
Here is a pretty complete guide to ALL the wine regions, restaurants, tours and hotels. Hope you visit this lovely area! Link: WINE
.....Back to Lisbon. Last few days. Museums, flea market, trams and a restaurant list, just for you!
Just watch your your Stuff! You can catch Tram 28 in Square Martim Moniz in Baixa (the city center).
Look for a Metro Sign (see picture below) head down the stairs, and buy a Viva Viagem Trolley Ticket from the machine ( again see below). We bought the 24 hour ticket for $6.15 each.
Here is a link for all the information on the tram routes. TRAM
TIP: This would be a Good Time to use a money belt or secure locked purse or pocket. We did see a couple of guys "eyeing" our stuff. We also noticed that after ahile, they hopped off and hopped on the next Tram right behind us.
So take a look at the VIDEO below! See the streets of the Alfama District and catch the Illegal rider!
.....Museums and flea markets
If you love flea markets , here is one to get to early!
Feira da Ladra, literally means: "Thieves Fair" the oldest fair in Lisbon, its origins came from the Middle Ages, XIII century. It’s a popular street market where you'll find a wide variety of "stuff"!
Most of the objects are second hand and you can find furniture, crafts, clothing, "creepy stuff", antiques, books, and much more!
I was told you can "haggle" to your heart's desire!
The market is in the Alfama neighborhood. Here is the address : Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472 Lisboa, Portugal
Open Tuesday's and Saturday's. 6am-5pm
.....Art, Culture, Museums! More Time Please!
We had no idea! If you love Museums and Art, make some time to visit the neighborhood of Belem!
Here is a great site to tell you all the about the cultural centers, arts and museums in the this area and beyond! ARTS
Jon was very interested in the The Maritime Museum, so for our last few hours in the city, that's where we went! Over 17,000 items and it was impressive!
Where to eat in Lisbon, Port?
Well, here's some great recommendations BUT we have to agree with
one of the Uber driver's on this one.
Here's the conversation:
Uber Driver: "Are you enjoying the food in Portugal?"
Us: "Yes, very much!"
Uber Driver: "I am from Portugal, and I have drove all over the United States. I am sorry to say, food is not great everywhere".
Us: *Pause* "Sometimes you have to search out great Chef's".
Uber Driver: "Aaaah, there is the difference. You can go into a restaurant, any price range, any size and it will be fabulous"
Us: "You know, You are right."
So, don't worry if your running late, lose the list, or your feet are wasted, you can "pop" in any restaurant and get some great food!
Restaurant Tip: Almost EVERY restaurant will bring you olives and bread to start. These are NOT free, there is a small charge. It is absolutely "okay" to wave those away. Just kindly refuse. We never did of course.
And now, here is a GREAT list of restaurants in Lisbon Portugal!
-Casa do Alentejo -- The restaurant is on the second floor, beautifully decorated; carved wood panels and paintings on the walls and ceilings. There is also a cafeteria on the first floor, popular for its fish tapas.
Location: Rua portas de santo Antão, 58, Lisbon +351213405140
-Adega Victor Horta -- Portuguese dishes in a cozy, romantic atmosphere. Fine wines, tapas and small plates available.
Location: Rua Cais de Santarem, 6, Lisbon +351 218 825 082
-ZamBeZe-- Located in the former Loureiro Market it offers a fusion of Portuguese food with fresh African flavors.
Location: Calçada Marquês de Tancos, Lisbon, +351 218877056
-Le Petit Café -- Drinks and meals with reasonable price tags. There is a great selection of fish, especially the octopus, which is well-presented and beautifully plated.
Location: Largo de São Martinho, 6, Lisbon, + 351 218 881 304
-Chapitô à Mesa-- Some of the best views in the city! There is a variety of traditional Portuguese plates, deserts are also fabulous. Reservations needed for the terrace.
Location: Rua Costa do Castelo 7, Lisbon, +351 218875077
-Chafariz D’El Rei-- The very best in breakfast and brunch! Bring your camera for the decor AND the food!
Location: Chafariz de El-Rei 6,Lisboa, +351 21 888 6150
-Cervejaria Ramiro-- Make a reservation or get there real early, like before 6pm.
It is one of Lisbon’s top fish restaurants. The sauces and marinades are to kill for!
Location: Rua Joã o Villaret 11, Lisboa +351 217 973 856 *make a reservation.
-A Cevicheria-- Best Ceviche! Peruvian menu; outstanding staff and don't miss the dulce de leche for dessert!
Location: R. Dom Pedro V 129, 1250-096 Lisboa +351 21 803 8815
-O Prego da Peixeria -- Delectable sandwiches!
Location: Rua da Escola Politécnica, 40, Lisbon +351 213 471 356
-Bistro Gato Pardo-- Cozy and Romantic. The soup, salads, pastas are incredible. Every single dish is cooked in a unique way, nicely prepared and tasty. Call for reservations, not open Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Location: Rua de são Vicente nr.10, 1100-574 Lisboa, +351 934 696 781
-Taberna da Rua Das Flores-- Cozy and fabulous! Petiscos to rave about!
Location: Rua das Flores 103, 1200-015 Lisboa +351 21 347 9418
If you're new to reserving an Airbnb. We have some special tips for making your stay, great!
Even if you've reserved before, check out our Q&A section ! You might see something new.
*Click* here: Airbnb Tips
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